Planet News Views

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Fight for Internet Freedom

By Scott McLean

Should there be Internet freedom throughout the world? If there cannot be universal Internet freedom, should there at least be a law in the United States that prevents U.S. Internet companies from cooperating with countries that censor the Internet and dictators who punish their own citizens for reading, writing or accessing web site information?

U.S. Congress this year will have a second look at a proposal that would, if it becomes law, stop U.S. companies from assisting oppressive regimes.

U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) Monday reintroduced legislation to prevent Internet firms from helping ruthless regimes limit freedom of expression and access to the Internet, according to Rep. Smith's news release on PR Newswire.

"American companies should not be working hand-in-glove with dictators. By blocking access to information and providing secret police with the technology to monitor dissidents, American IT companies are knowingly-and willingly-enabling the oppression of millions of people," said Smith, who in the last session of Congress received extensive testimony on similar unsuccessful legislation from companies that had helped limit Internet freedoms by going along with the requests of dictators.

"Microsoft, Google, Yahoo! and Cisco Systems testified that they have complied with censorship laws and/or provided personally identifiable information about Internet users to repressive regimes in countries where they do business," the news release from Rep. Smith states.

"By helping dictators stifle free speech and spy on dissidents, American IT companies are putting profits before principles," said Smith.

However, Smith added that he thinks the "Global Online Freedom Act of 2007" (as it is named) will have a better chance at success before the 110th Congress. He cited Internet companies changing business practices with oppressive governments as a reason for his optimism.


At 7:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said... do you have time to write so many blogs? I want to know your secret. And all the foodie writing. Is this a hobby or are you a professional writer? Curious, you know?

At 12:54 AM, Blogger Scott McLean said...

Hi Cheryl,

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I enjoy writing. My career has included work as a writer, and now (for the past year) I've been writing these weblogs. Writing is fun and interesting, but it also takes time. I'll stop back at your blog and leave another comment. Take care.



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